Chiang Mai’s rich history goes back hundreds of years. Because of its prime location and fertile land, the valley that extends from the base of Suthep Mountain to the Ping River was settled in early times by several different ethnic groups, including the hilltribe group know as the Lua tribe. Later, King Mengrai unified the different towns and villages into what came to be known as the Lanna Kingdom. In 1296, he fortified the fertile valley area with a rectangular shaped brick wall measuring 1.6 Kilometers (1 mile) wide, and 2.0 kilometers (1.25 miles) long.
Parts of the wall are still intact today, and the area within it is often called the “old city”. King Mengrai went on to expand his kingdom to both sides of the Ping River and beyond, naming it “Nop Buri Sri Nakorn Ping Chiang Mai”. This city became the center of the Lanna Kingdom that later expanded and overed much of Northern Thailand. After that there was sporadic warfare for several generations, and Chiang Mai fell several times to both the Burmese and to a powerful kingdom to the south that was centered around the Choa Phaya Basin.
In the end, Chiang Mai was taken by Krung Thon Buri, the capital of Thailand during that time, and under the fifth Rama, became a part of Thailand. Since the time of the Lanna Kingdom, Chiang Mai has been a city for a total of 700 years.
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